Hi.

I'm Shreya. I have opinions on television. If they're wrong I'm sure you'll tell me in the comments. 

unapologetically feminist, working on being a better ally

Why I want the Mindy Project to be good… (but why it isn't)

Why I want the Mindy Project to be good… (but why it isn't)

I’ve been a fan of Mindy Kaling since wrote the Diwali episode of The Office. It helped explain what Diwali was to white people, and seeing saris and brown people on TV was a refreshing experience, especially seven years ago. You guys can hang with your Jennifer Lawrences and Mila Kunis’s (Kuni?), my imaginary celebrity friend group is made up of Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler. That’s why I was so excited about The Mindy Project, a show produced, written, and created by Mindy Kaling. The pilot did nothing to quench that excitement, it was funny, and full of potential. The rest of the season...not so much.

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Why I wanted The Mindy Project to be good…

As a character, Dr. Mindy Lahiri (the last name is a nod to Jhumpa Lahiri, author of "The Namesake" and beloved by both Mindy and I) is so much fun to watch. Yes, she does play an Indian doctor (stereotype alert), but after years of playing ditzy Kelly Kapoor, I can cut her some slack. Mindy also wanted Dr. Lahiri to be an OB-GYN just like Mindy’s real mom was (who passed away right when the show got picked up by Fox).

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In addition to being of South Indian descent, Mindy also doesn’t have a typical “TV body”. As nice as it is to see body diversity on TV, it’s even nicer when it’s just used as a source of comedy. Don’t get me wrong, Kaling is an incredible physical comedian (see this Vulture article for evidence) but she uses it to enhance the scene. According to Mindy, " {her} character can only get dressed up and look pretty on the show if she either (a) immediately gets called a grotesque monster by another character, or (b) somehow suffers in a big theatrical, ugly-making way." She's not afraid to look silly, or be less than perfect at all times. She’s inviting her to laugh with her not AT her (unlike say Mike and Molly). As romantic as it is when the strong strapping male leads pick up their waifish love interest (see The Notebook, or any romantic comedy ever), it’s also not realistic. Guys have thrown out their backs trying to do that for me.

Star crossed lovers in real life and several shows? 

Star crossed lovers in real life and several shows? 

Speaking of guys, Mindy also dates a lot of guys. Mostly white guys, sure (we’ll get to that later), but again, interracial dating is treated so naturally. Here are some of my imaginary boyfriends she’s dated: Mark Duplass, Seth Rogen, Andy Samberg, Anders Holm. Rumor has it Adam Pally and Timothy Olyphant are guest starring as possible love interests (are you joking, Mindy? Like for real, bitch). It’s a veritable who’s who of Shreya’s sexytime journal. And none of her dates start by asking her if she has an arranged marriage, as many of mine do. So... that’s nice for Mindy.

Mindy loves clubbing, fashion, celebrities...but she’s also great at her job. Mindy’s obsession with the Oscars, or Beyonce, is never treated as frivolous. Even if she is gently mocked by her colleagues, they respect her. She’s depicted as a caring and professional OB-GYN, who clearly has her patients’ best interests at heart. One of the best parts of the pilot was the sequence set to MIA's "Bad Girls" that showed Mindy going from her cute date look to her badass doctor self and delivering a baby. Well-rounded characters on a network show? Yes, more, please.

...and why it isn’t

Other than Mindy, the show has a huge problem with depicting non-white characters. I understand the impulse to only date white Jewish nerds, but there's more to life that that. Here are some other guys you could date Mindy:

Oh, hey girl 

Oh, hey girl 

Donald Glovers. As Troy from Community. #crossover!
Idris Elba. Duh. If you’re just casting famous hot people anyway, let’s go all out.
Reggie Watts, just to mix things up a little.
Kumail Nanjiani, maybe a brown on brown storyline?

The workplace plotlines are boring and uninteresting. I don’t care about Dwight 2.0 (Ike Barinholtz), crazy inappropriate nurse (Beth Grant) , or any other office staff. There is no ensemble chemistry, and the plotlines set in the office often clash in a jarring way with the main Mindy plotlines. I don’t need to see another medical workplace comedy. Let’s collectively place a moratorium on medical shows. Also cop shows and law procedurals. Also, what happened to her friend Gwen (Anna Camp)? Or her other friend whose name I can't even be bothered to look up, that's how much of an impact she made on me? Season 1 was erratic, which can happen as a new show settles into a groove. However, the plotting problems and lack of narrative structure only got worse as the show went on.

By introducing Chloë Sevigny (more guest stars!) as Danny's ex-wife, the show created an unnecessary obstacle. I understand Danny and Mindy are eventually meant to end up together, but the show hasn't laid the foundation well. A formulaic sitcom can be predictable, but still interesting and entertaining. An example of "a will they-won't they" storyline that worked like gangbusters is Nick and Jess from New Girl. Yes, the audience saw it coming, but it didn't make it any less fun to watch. Since the original concept of The Mindy Project was to play with romantic comedy tropes, I can forgive the formulas and contrived situations. As long as they're still funny and charming, which sad to say the show has not delivered on.

I was holding out hope for the second season. The first episode with guest star James Franco (a famous actor isn't a gimmick to raise ratings at allllll) aired this past week, and it was underwhelming at best. There are some bad habits left over from the first season, including a lot more telling than showing. I wish the producers trusted the writing and cast to show us what makes the characters tick rather than just telling us in the form of clunky exposition. Mindy, I want to support you, but if I watch this show just because you’re my homegirl, I won’t be doing any show runners any favors. Get it together, or make room for another talented writer. Knowing Fox though, they’ll just replace it with another Seth McFarlane show, so we all lose.

Sailors in your mouth

Sailors in your mouth

Platinum Age of Television?

Platinum Age of Television?